As many of my readers will know, I tend to switch to the full Java console when I know I’m going to be doing alot of work in the Netscaler console as it’s much faster than the HTML version.
I recently noticed a new item that had appeared in the Java GUI labelled “Content Optimization”
Intriguingly this doesn’t appear in the native HTML GUI anywhere!
On investigation, it appears I can now create policies to perform various in-line optimisations in HTML content such as MINIFY. I’ve yet to find any way of binding them to vServers though!
The complete list of available Actions are: Agressive [sp], Basic, CSSMinify, HTMLMinify, IMGopimize, JSMinify, Moderate, None
This is hopefully a feature that’s due to appear in the next major release – although looks like it was added a little too early in the Java GUI!
This is great news – I’ve been after this functionality for a while, as the Netscaler is ideally placed in-line with your web site to perform these optimisations on the fly and already has a powerful packet processing engine to efficiently rewrite content.
Google are actively developing a PageSpeed module for a variety of popular web servers like Apache that performs similar features (and a whole host of others). Given there is a PageSpeed SDK available it would awesome of more of this functionality were to be ported onto the Netscaler platform. Google also offer a hosted service, currently free, that provide the same in-line optimisations for your site.
When working on Netscaler implementation projects, most of which tend to be internet-facing, one aspect that most organisations always perform is a penetration test. Having been through a number of these over the years, I thought it would be a good idea to share my experiences and some of the common aspects that get highlighted, to enable you to “pass first time” without having any remedial actions to work through and costly re-tests to perform.
I’ve worked with Netscaler, and Netscaler Gateway (formerly Access Gateway Enterprise Edition) for a number of years now, and whilst I’m a huge fan of the technology, over that time I’ve built up a number of “I wish it did this” items. Some are the results of things I’ve found, whilst others have been requested by end users.
I though it was time to put them down on paper (well, in electronic format at least), share with the world and get some feedback and hopefully visibility.
Update: 31/12/13 – the original title of this blog was “Top 5 feature requests” but I’ve added a couple more since.
In no particular order…
I love writing these kinds of posts – real world examples of troubleshoot live environments, and sharing the methodology I used to find the root cause. As with all of my posts, click on the screenshots to enlarge.
[updated on 11/10/13 to add an additional caveat when using the GC for multi-domain authentication]
I was asked to investigate a “Cannot complete your request” error which was preventing users from logging into their StoreFront site externally via a Netscaler Gateway.
As usual, the error message wasn’t particularly helpful or descriptive, so we’re going to have to do some elimination. This is how I found and fixed the error.
If you’ve been working with Citrix, Microsoft or VMware virtualisation technology for a while and have never been to E2E/PubForum then you’re seriously missing out.
I’ll be attending the next E2E in Rome, my 10th E2E/PubForum and here’s some of the reasons why:
- Good technical presentations from fellow experts and architects.
- Registration is hundreds of euros, not thousands.
- It’s one of the more
chaoticrelaxed and informal conferences.
- It used to be called PubForum, so there’s usually beer involved at some point
- Attendees are limited to around one hundred so its small enough to retain that “big family” feel
- Probably the only place you’ll get networking and quality face-time with 15 CTPs and 18 MVPs without them all having to rush off because of other presentation commitments
- There’s a good mix of loyal regulars many of whom I can now call friends, plus a healthy flow of newbies to make new contact with
- It’s consultant-friendly being mostly on the weekend so I only need to take one day of unpaid leave
- I get to visit lots of nice European cities and it’s only a short plane ride from the UK
- The venues are all inexpensive hotels that won’t break the budget (take note Synergy!)
- By extending my stay for just a day I get to give the family a long weekend break (aka brownie points)
- Alex (the organiser), is a very funny guy, after all these years still claims to make no money whatsoever from this so I’m happy to continue to support his self-delusion.
It’s these reasons why I’ve been to 10 PubForum/E2E and only one BriForum conference in the past five years.
If the above sounds appealing, don’t waste any more time and register for one of the last few remaining seats for Rome on 1st November.
Hope to see you there!
Whilst many will travel to Citrix Summit on expenses of ones employer, for those independent consultants like myself, who’s expenses ultimately come out of ones own pocket, I’m always looking for ways to save money on travel expenses.
This years Summit is being held in Orlando, which means there’s a great selection of accommodation for a variety of budgets in the immediate vicinity of the Orange County Convention Centre.
The hotels that Citrix have partnered with are, as usual, all pretty pricey, at between $145 and $175 a night (plus tax) if you book through the conference website. The Rosen Plaza hotel appears as fully booked on travel websites (as Citrix has no doubt block-booked most of the rooms) however the Doubletree by Hilton can still be booked directly for $119 per room if you book here and use a HFAL10P discount code to give you 10% off. The Rosen Centre Hotel comes in at $181 including tax using the same site and code.
For those with smaller wallets…
$99 special for Wyndham Orlando Resort
You can purchase a voucher that will give you two nights accommodation at Wyndham Orlando Resort, which is about 1 mile away from the convention centre (40 minute walk, or 15 minutes by bus). If you’re arriving on Sunday then you might need to add an additional night (or book separately for that one night)
The process is a bit convoluted as it involves redeeming your voucher with a travel agency, specifying your preferred locations/dates then hoping for the best. It’s also in theory restricted to US residents only, as none of the address fields allow non-US addresses, but I just put the zip code of the convention centre, and I got my voucher through OK.
The price is a genuinely good deal however, as booking the same property via their website for two nights costs $199 per night plus tax.
Caveat: whilst I’ve purchased and submitted my voucher, I’ve yet to hear back from the travel agency as to whether my chosen dates are available, so you may want to wait for a few days until I can post my results back here. The deal expires on 7th October so there’s a bit of leeway.
My voucher arrived 4 days after submitting my request. Result!
Other cheaper options
The venue for E2E Rome has been announced, and booking direct with the venue is usually cheapest, however their cheapest rate is non-refundable.
To match the venue’s cheapest price, use this link, and enter discount code HCSUMM10 to get 10% discount. You can also add an optional breakfast which also qualifies for the discount.
The end result is the same price is booking directly with the venue hotel, but you have the reassurance of a fully refundable booking should your plans change
Waste of a generation
When you think about software, what comes to mind? Traditional office-based applications like Word, Excel and Powerpoint? Mobile “Apps” for iPhones and Android? Operating systems? Embedded software powering our cars, microwaves and washing machines? All are examples of software of course, just at different levels of user interaction.
Having working in the IT industry for over 18 years (has it really been that long?!) one notices trends. One major trend is the move to doing everything “in software”. First it was the hypervisor. No more physical tin for our server installs…there is now a layer of “software” abstracting our servers from real silicon.
It was inevitable that following server virtualisation came Network and storage virtualistion with virtual routers and switches like the Nexus and OpenvSwitch. All based upon software. Of course, physical switches contain software too – and quite complex software too – Cisco IOS contains 40+ million lines of code – that’s the same as Windows XP.
Alongside this is the explosion of “apps” for consumer devices, many of which written by individuals working in their bedroom.
Software is going to be important. And increasingly so. And the ability to write software are going to be crucial for our economy if we’re to keep up with demand, and every growing competition developing countries.
If you’ve been a student in a UK school in the past decade, you would of been led to believe “IT” (or ICT as it’s now known) means knowing how to write a letter in Microsoft Word, and add up a column of numbers in Excel and draw some colourful shapes in Paintbrush. This isn’t the IT I was taught at school, nor should it be what our children are being taught now.
We’ve thrown away two generations of potential authors of the next Angry Birds, the next Facebook or the next Xen hypervisor by turning them into Office automatons.
What a waste.
Don’t get me wrong, I think knowing how to use productivity applications, especially the Office suite used in the majority of workplaces is a useful skill, and should be taught at some stage in preparation for life in the workplace. But it’s not ICT, nor should it be labelled as such.
The government (perhaps swayed by a large pot of cash from Google and Facebook lobbyists?) appear to be planning to change the ICT curriculum taught to our future generation. The mainstream press seem to agree it’s a good idea.
Having purchased a Raspberry Pi, mainly so I could run RISC OS and XBMC on a computer the size of a credit card and for under £25, I came across a coding tool call Scratch that was baked into the Raspbian OS image. There are thousands of hobbyists doing crazy things with their Pi which is awesome, but one of the original aims of the Raspberry Pi foundation was to create a computer cheap enough that dozens could be given away to pupils to inspire them to code.
Here is where CodeClub comes in. Changing the nationwide ICT curriculum is like turning an oil tanker. It’s going to take a while. So in the meantime, CodeClub aims to plant the seed using volunteers teaching coding to 9-11 year olds via after school clubs.
The video below gives a good overview
I’ve been attending Croydon TechCity events since it was founded last year, and one evening was dedicated to technology in education, with one of the founders of CodeClub giving a presentation. As a result of this, a group of organisers started coordinating a plan to start CodeClubs in the boroughs schools.
Time to step up
Anyone who know’s me knows that I’m enormously busy. Working full time as an independent consultant, helping run the UK Citrix User group, speaking at and attending conferences, TechCity, Toastmasters, Purley Business Association, and running a hosting company whilst also being a good husband and father means I have virtually no free time. So fitting in a weekly code club will be a challenge, but I think it’s cause worthy of my time and effort.
I’m currently honing my Scratch skills, reading up on how other CodeClubs have gone, and reading through the CodeClub curriculum whilst awaiting for my CRB checks to go through before I can officially start my club.
I’ll be blogging about how my club goes, so watch this space for updates!
If this has inspired you to do the same, sign-up on the CodeClub website as a volunteer, and get in touch with your local schools to start your own club, and prepare the next generation of kids with the skills that will allow them to succeed in a world driven by software.
A slightly different blog post for today!
As some of my peers may know, I work as an independent consultant, and have ever since I graduated in 1995! There are many different schemes on the internet that claim to maximise your earnings but I’ve always steered clear of these as many get shut down when legislation catches up with whatever workaround they are using (indemnified loans, offshore trusts etc) to avoid paying tax. I believe everyone who earns money has an obligation to pay their fair share of tax.
However, the government offers a number of schemes to help offset the cost of childcare. One of these is childcare vouchers. I’ve spoken to a number of consultants who have never taken advantage of these on the mistaken belief that it’s too complex to set up and the costs involved in getting a third party company to administer the scheme would outweigh any benefit.
Neither are the case. read more…
Here’s the scenario: Contoso Inc (good name as any eh?) want to block users from a specific country from accessing their infrastructure. Because these users are particularly smart, they’ve been using anonymous proxies that use frequently changing IP addresses to circumvent regular GeoIP location detection, so the company decides to block all IPs from anonymous proxies and use a real-time service.
And conveniently they already have Netscaler technology in place to protect and accelerate their web sites. Good choice Contoso!
I’m actually going to detail two different ways of achieving this, one using a freely available (but only updated monthly) static GeoIP database, and the other using a realtime GeoIP service that meets the original requirement.
We’re going to use quite a few of the Netscaler features: GSLB database, load balancing, responder, http callouts, integrated cache and pattern sets, so make yourself a cuppa, grab a biscuit and let’s go!